Brits have wondered how best to win the National Lottery since the first draw almost 30 years ago.
Many of us have a selection of ‘lucky numbers’ that we choose week after week, while others leave it to chance by making a random selection.
Now mathematicians claim they know how to guarantee a lottery win, and tests by MailOnline suggest it does work.
Buying no less than 27 tickets, each with a specific combination of numbers, is the secret to winning a prize, they reveal.
However, at £2 per ticket, or £54 for 27 tickets, you won’t necessarily make a profit even if you win.
It could be you: Researchers say you need 27 tickets to guarantee a win in the UK National Lottery
In the photo, the 27 number combinations. These are the numbers you must choose on your 27 tickets if you want to be guaranteed a prize. The researchers say: “The reader can verify for himself that any drawing of six numbers from 1 to 59 will match at least two numbers with at least one of the above tickets.”
The new study was led by David Cushing and David Stewart, two mathematicians at the University of Manchester.
They stress that no fewer than 27 tickets will win you a prize, though they themselves aren’t entirely sure why.
‘We identified 27 tickets that guarantee a prize, regardless of which of the 45,057,474 possible draws occurs,’ they point out in their newspaper.
“In addition, we determined that 27 is the optimal number of tickets required, since it is not possible to achieve the same guarantee with 26 tickets.
‘The hard part of proving the theorem is showing that there is not also a set of 26 tickets that work.’
The National Lottery became a public phenomenon and a fixture of Saturday night entertainment when it made its debut in November 1994, hosted by Noel Edmonds.
The format of the main game, known as Lotto, is simple; for a cost of £2, choose six numbers ranging from 1 to 59 before the draw.
You win a £30 cash prize if three of your numbers are drawn, although a free Lucky Dip is awarded if you match two numbers.
A Lucky Dip gives you another chance, except the numbers are randomly selected for you.
If you successfully match all six numbers, you will win the jackpot, from £2 million to £12 million.
For their study, the academics used a process called finite geometry, where different combinations of numbers are visualized as points on geometric shapes.
The National Lottery became a public phenomenon and a fixture of Saturday night entertainment when it made its debut in November 1994, hosted by Noel Edmonds (pictured)
National Lottery: breakdown of prizes
two numbers: free lucky jump
three numbers: £30
four numbers: £140
five numbers: £1,750
Five numbers plus the bonus ball: £1 million
six numbers: Jackpot
They were able to identify the 27 number combinations you must choose if you want to be guaranteed a prize in a single draw.
The researchers say in their article: “The reader can verify for himself that any drawing of six numbers from 1 to 59 will match at least two numbers with at least one of the previous tickets.”
To test this, MailOnline randomly chose six numbers that could be the result of a hypothetical National Lottery draw: 4, 18, 29, 48, 49 and 52.
Indeed, if MailOnline had purchased 27 tickets with the different number combinations as per the researchers’ instructions, we would have got three tickets with two matching numbers and one ticket with three matching numbers.
So we would have won three Lucky Dips and £30, although this would also mean we had lost £24 after spending £54 on 27 lottery tickets.
Unfortunately, Lucky Dip tickets don’t allow you to pick your own numbers, so they can’t be used to try the process again.
Ultimately, the team system seems to be geared towards guaranteeing some kind of prize, even if it’s nothing substantial.
The academics used a process called finite geometry, where different combinations of numbers are visualized as points on geometric shapes (pictured).
The two mathematicians say: ‘We are pleased to be able to describe this quite elegantly using some basic structures from finite geometry.’
A spokesman for Camelot, the company that runs the National Lottery, said new scientist that the study is “interesting reading.”
“Our approach has always been to get a lot of people playing a bit, with players individually spending small amounts on our games,” the spokesperson said.
“It is also important to note that, ultimately, Lotto is a lottery.
“Like all other National Lottery draw-based games, all lottery winning numbers are chosen at random.
‘Any number has the same chance of being drawn as any other, and every line of numbers entered into a draw has the same chance of winning as any other.’
The study follows an American mathematician’s advice for winning the lottery, which includes opting for “unpopular numbers” and refraining from making the same selections each time.
Curse of the lottery! FEMAIL Reveals Billionaire Winners Who Regret Hitting The Jackpot
Many of us spend our lives dreaming about winning the lottery and what we would do with the multi-million pound jackpot.
But if previous winners are to be believed, taking first prize isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Self-employed Steve Thompson, 46, from Selsey, West Sussex, won the massive jackpot in 2019 after playing the lottery for 25 years.
The builder and his wife packed up their £150,000 three-bedroom terraced house and moved into a sprawling £4.5m property in Kent.
But friends have told The Sun that Mr Thompson is longing for his old life, and he is not the only winner to apparently bemoan his supposed good luck, with several believing it changed their lives for the worse.
FEMAIL has revealed the winners who they apparently believe they lost in the end.